Kris Richard met with the media after Thursday's practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Here are three key takeaways from the Seahawks defensive coordinator heading into Sunday's matchup with the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field:
1. What He's Liked From The Seahawks Defense
Through the season's first two weeks, the Seahawks lead the NFL both in total defense, giving up 248.5 yards per game, and scoring defense, allowing an average of 9.5 points per contest. Seattle also ranks tied for second in the League with 8.0 total sacks. Asked what he has liked from his unit's solid play after two games, Richard answered, "the tenacity."
"Watching these guys just run and hit," said Richard. "Watching these guys come and go after the football. We haven't had it yet, but the opportunities are there. We feel as though they will come. But our tackling has been really good. Like I said we're looking to consistently improve in all those areas. That's our focus. We want to go out there and we want find the little things and continue to own the little things and continue to get better at those each and every single game."
2. What He Hasn't Liked From The Seahawks Defense
Even top defenses like Seattle's have room for improvement, and Richard called attention to one statistical category that has been of utmost importance to the Seahawks' past success as an area where he'd like to see progress made.
"It starts with the explosive plays," Richard said. "We have 11 in two games and that's too many."
Seattle defines explosive plays as pass completions of 16 or more yards and runs of 12 yards or longer. Containing explosive plays as a defense goes a long way in keeping opponents out of scoring position and it's an area that ranks alongside turnover margin (more on that later) as one of the most critical pieces to a Pete Carroll-coached team.
"We want to stay true to eliminating those explosive plays and then we've got to get the ball," Richard said. "We've got to make sure when we step out there we got to stop the ball from going over our head and we have to go get the ball back for our offense."
3. "We've Got To Get The Football"
Despite the defense's impressive play in Week 1 and 2, the Seahawks are still searching for their first turnover of the year. Several players touched on that factor following last Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, pointing out that the more the defense can take the ball away from the opponent, the more chances Seattle's offense has to put points on the board. Richard reiterated some of what coach Carroll said Wednesday, noting takeaways "come in bunches" and are "part of our philosophy. It's part of who we are as a defense."
"We've been close, but we understand that that's a part of our football team and we have to do our part," said Richard. "We've got to go out there, we've got to get that football and we've got to give our offense as many chances as possible. That's our responsibility. That's one part of our game to where we know we want to get better at. We've got to get the football."
The Seahawks held practice outside at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Thursday as the team prepares for their game against the 49ers.